Well, our time rehearsing in NYC has come to a close, and we are all preparing to journey up to Cambridge, MA where we will move into the theater at the A.R.T. We finished up this week with our first full run through of the show. This was exciting because it was the first time we really got to see the complete picture of what we have been working on so hard for all these weeks.
We have had the tremendous privilege over the course of this rehearsal process of working closely with the original composer of the show, Stephen Schwartz (also famous for composing “Wicked” and “Godspell” among others) and the amazingly talented team from our music department. This team consists of Nadia Di Giallonardo (Music Supervisor), Charlie Alterman (Music Director), and Sonny Paladino (Associate Music Director).
This group has been working alongside our orchestrator, Larry Hochman; our director, Diane Paulus; and other members of our creative team, Chet Walker and Gypsy Snider to create new arrangements for the show. In some cases this means simply altering the orchestrations a bit to give them a more contemporary feel. In other cases, it means composing whole new sections of music to suit the specific needs of this particular production. The score of “Pippin” is one of the most recognizable and beloved scores in American musical theater, and it has been fascinating watching this team collaborate to create something that both preserves the original sound of this cherished score but also brings something new to it that will be unique to our production.
One of the sections of the show that is getting updated is Fastrada’s dance break in “Spread a Little Sunshine.” In this number we see her set a plot in motion for her son Lewis to take over the throne from her own husband, King Charlemagne. Chet Walker has created a brand new dance sequence full of seductive hip swivels and explosive movement for our tremendously talented Fastrada, Charlotte d’Amboise. I was already star struck to get to work with these two Broadway legends, but getting to watch them on stage creating brand new choreography that is just for our show is an honor I will cherish for the rest of my career. In addition to new choreography, the team has also brought in dance arranger Zane Mark who has arranged all new music for the dance break. I cannot even describe in words how cool it is watching Chet and Charlotte on stage demonstrating choreography while the music team looks on literally composing and arranging the accompanying music right then and there discussing changes in tempo, drum hits and symbol crashes to accompany big kicks, or which instruments should play which parts. It is at moments like this that I am reminded how special this production is and how fortunate I am to be a part of it!
Chet Walker and Charlotte d’Amboise work on new choreography for “Spread a Little Sunshine”
Our music team hard at work on arrangements for “Spread A Little Sunshine” Nadia Di Giallonardo, Zane Mark, Sonny Paladino, Charlie Alterman
Sonny Paladino and Charlie Alterman working with the score
Our Music Supervisor, Nadia Di Giallonardo